The Difference Between Good Stewardship and Gullibility
- Monday, March 07, 2005
I have the best job in the world. I get to spend my full time traveling to churches nationwide presenting the No Debt, No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar. (It's going to be great when I get to heaven because I'm going to know half of the people there!) But while Christians may be the sweetest, kindest folks on the planet -- sometimes it seem we've cornered the market on gullibility!
The old Latin phrase, "caveat emptor" ("let the buyer beware") is the place I like to begin when discussing the difference between being the Christian that Jesus wants me to be instead of the idiot that I tend to be.
My simple advice is: Never, never, never, never, never, never, never close your eyes when spending money. Always pay attention when someone presents you with a bill. Always read the small print. Always ask questions.
It's not that other people are dishonest. It's just that they aren't usually as concerned about your money as you should be. When Jesus warned His followers to "be as shrewd as serpents, and as innocent as doves," He was preparing them for spiritual ministry. But, the same advice applies here.
Sometimes we Christians are too trusting, too gullible. Because we treat other people fairly, we assume they will treat us fairly. It doesn't always work that way. Some of the unhappiest most disillusioned Christians I have ever met were ones who had blindly assumed they could trust other people to keep their word. As good stewards, it's our responsibility to manage (and, oversee) our money prudently.
Here are a few pointers that will save you a lot of money over a lifetime:
• Never allow yourself to be hurried into signing a contract. Always read it. If it is complicated or unclear, have your lawyer review it, too.
• Watch the prices at the grocery store checkout. Scanner prices can be wrong. Always watch the prices as they ring up to be sure they jibe with the prices marked on the shelves.
• Review your bills. Be a line-item reviewer. Check every charge on your credit card, long distance, cable, and other bills. If something is wrong, dispute it immediately.
• Before approving a project ask for an exact quote (not an estimate) whenever feasible. Remember, an estimate is just that -- an estimate. By definition, it means that your final price may vary. And, based on my experience, there's rarely been a case when that final price was less than the estimate. Usually, it's more than the original estimate -- sometimes a lot more.
Saving Big Bucks At the Grocery Store
One of the biggest recurring expenses for most families is groceries. It's important to know that grocers are skilled marketers. It is their job to separate you from as many of your dollars as they can. It's a jungle in there. So, it's critical to think before you buy. Here are some tips that will make the trip to the grocery store less costly:
• Bring a calculator. Add your purchases up as you put them in the cart.
• Consider buying store brands. Today's store brands are frequently at least as good as their major-brand counter parts. Also, some stores give double money back guarantees on their own brands if you are dissatisfied.
• Never go grocery shopping when you're hungry! The cheapest meal you'll ever eat is the one you eat just before going to the grocery.
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